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History As It Happens

Feb 9, 2023

Seventy-three years ago today, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy delivered a watershed speech in his young political career in Wheeling, West Virginia. He told the Republican Women's Club that he knew of more than 200 known Communists who had infiltrated the U.S. government. "Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of communism have selected this as the time. And, ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down—they are truly down," the Republican demagogue warned his audience. In this episode, historian and McCarthy biographer Rick Fried discusses his new book, "A Genius for Confusion," which illuminates the destructive power of lying in an atmosphere of heightened national angst and anti-communist paranoia. In our age of disinformation, McCarthyism has enduring relevance.